Law & the Courts

Andrew McCabe Proposes DOJ Accountability Office to Counter ‘Weakness’ of FISA-Warrant Process

FBI Trump Russia Investigation
Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, June 7, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Former acting FBI director Andy McCabe admitted Thursday that the Bureau suffers from an “inherent weakness in the process” of obtaining FISA warrants, and suggested the establishment of an internal accountability office for lawyers to review FISA-application evidence in “real time.”

Speaking on a panel at NYU Law School about the implications of DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, McCabe admitted that without oversight, “we are never going to fix” the FISA process. He said one potential solution was the creation of a “permanent” institution within the DOJ to coordinate efforts between Justice Department and FBI lawyers, ensuring every piece of evidence is included in any potential FISA application.

“I’ve been thinking more about a permanent office of DOJ attorneys, and assisted by FBI attorneys, to actually perform that review on packages [on] a real-time basis,” he explained.

Horowitz’s report, which found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” in the FBI’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, also faulted the entire FBI chain of command, including McCabe, for failing in its oversight duties.

Speaking Thursday, McCabe emphasized that any issues with the FISA process happened at the “agent level,” saying that “all of the responsibility is left on the shoulders of the case agent.” He closed by categorically denying allegations that the FBI had engaged in political bias in its pursuit of FISA warrants during the investigation of the Trump campaign.

“Political bias? No, there is no truth to that,” McCabe stated.

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